Tuesday, January 15, 2008

From a Tattoo on My Lower Right Arm: PRISON BREAK returns, and MORE.

Finally, a little GRAVITAS on Monday nights ...

No, Jack Bauer wasn't back, and no, I actually didn't even catch Hour 2 of TERMINATOR (will likely catch up on that one soon).

But, how about PRISON BREAK ...?

- Last night's ep was pretty badass from start to finish. Picking up right where we left off several weeks back, this installment took an interesting turn, as Scofield was detained by a determined general intent on extracting Michael's true purpose and reason for being in Sona. Deciding that he was left with little choice but to confide in the seemingly well-intentioned General (who himself was quite the badass character), Michael surprisingly spills everything he knows about The Company and their plans for Michael to break the still-mysterious Whistler out of Sona penitentiary. Whistler is then also taken into custody, but it's unclear if the enigmatic Australian is actually on Michael's side or The Company's. For now, Whistler goes along with Michael and cooperates in a plan to ambush the mysterious Gretchen during her next scheduled meeting with Lincoln. Gretchen is captured by the General and co., but somehow, the femme fatale escapes and singlehandedly takes out an entire group of soldiers singlehandedly.

All in all, it was an intense, action-packed hour with a number of twists and turns and red herrings. Seeing Gretchen actually captured and on the verge of going down was pretty shocking, but quite satisfying, as she truly is a love-to-hate her type of villain. The highlight of her capture was surely her first-ever confrontation with Michael, who, sensing that she was in fact Sarah's murderer, vowed to take her down. In Gretchen, Prison Break has created another fantastic foil for our heroes, a character who has now become almost as interesting as our main characters.

That's not to say that some of the other side characters didn't also have a chance to shine. William Fichtner, who recently wowed me in his role in THE DARK KNIGHT trailer, was, as per usual, awesome. His character, Mahone, was thrown back into Sona, more of a wreck than ever, taunted and tempted by T-Bag - who had some hialriously evil lines here. Also a lot of fun was Bellick, who has now found himself the resident pit-fighting king of Sona thanks to some underhanded tricks. Bellick is just a great scumbag character, it was hilarious seeing him beg Lechero's goons not to have to participate in his mandated fight to the death. There was also some interesting stuff going on with Sucre. At first, I was pretty weary of the show teasing that he was joining the dark side. Sure, the guy's a criminal, but it would have been a stretch to see him sell out Michael and Lincoln after all they've been through. So it was pretty cool that the teased turn ended up being a ruse, and that Sucre will now be Lincoln's inside guy at The Company.

The weakest link here was definitely Whistler's girlfriend, who has become somewhat useless by this point. It seemed like all she had to contribute to this episode were frequent declarations of "I just don't know what to think anymore!". It doesn't help that, after all this time, we still know almost nothing about Whistler. I'm not saying we need to know everything, but some small hints wouldn't hurt.

Other than that, this episode began building a ton of momentum about ten minutes in and then didn't let up for a second. More than almost any episode so far, this one established Gretchen as a truly great villain on par with one of last season's breakouts, Kellerman. And also, let's give some credit to Wentworth Miller - the man delivers lines with classic deadpan aplomb, and when he says typically badass things like "Once we escape, all you are to me is collateral," it can't help but bring a smile to yer face. Man, was it good to have Prison Break back.

My Grade: A -

- As I mentioned, have not yet seen the 2nd ep of Terminator, though will have thoughts soon, most likely.

- But while I'm in the right kind of mood, I'll give a shoutout to a few cool comics I've checked out of late ...

- The first is the latest iteration of THE SUICIDE SQUAD, brought to you by original series creator John Ostrander, one of my favorite writers and a true great of modern comics. This series was a little slow out of the gate, as it too ka few issues to give us a somewhat convoluted explanation of how original series lead Rick Flagg was in fact still alive after his presumed death way back when. But man, since then, Ostrander has been firing on all cylinders, bringing us classic Suicide Squad - a potent mix of politics, espionage, and villainous characters forced by their governemnt to serve their country or else face the ultimate penalty. One of the highlights has been seeing Ostrander tackle one of his best creations - Amanda "The Wall" Waller - a take no prisoners government operative who is one of the most atypical comic book characters you'll find. Overall, this mini series has evolved into one of my favorite monthly reads, and I'd love to see it become an ongoing - it's clear that Ostrander has many more tales of the Squad up his sleeve.

- One other cool read of late has been SALVATION RUN. The premise is simply that the government has had enough of the DC Universe's villains, and thus gathered them all up and transported them all to a faraway planet - a world inhabited by hostile aliens and all manner of natural and unnatural dangers. Prominent characters include such stalwarts as Lex Luthor and The Joker, alongside a bevy of lesser-knowns, from the Flash's Rogues to 90's-era villains The Body Doubles to a few simian adversaries (who doesn't love talking apes?) like Grodd and Monsieur Mallah (who are scheduled to go mano y mano - or is that monkey a monkey? - in the next ish). Anyways, writers Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges have done a great job making this one a really fun read. Willingham is sometimes hit and miss, but his dark humor and whimsical writing style have thus far been a great match for the premise.

- Speaking of comics ... I believe this week is the last EVER issue of Y: THE LAST MAN. So, so sad - overall, it's bar-none been my favorite comic of the last 5 years. Will definitely be back soon with a tribute to one of the greatest tales I've read, the saga of Yorrick Brown - the last man on earth.

- Alright, I'm out. I'll be back soon with a review of FUTURAMA: BENDER'S BIG SCORE, and much more.

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